by Kim Plummer Krull
Although this fall marks her 23rd year as a Lutheran school teacher, Terri Bentz is embarking on big firsts. After teaching second through fourth grades throughout her career, Bentz will instruct music and art along with continuing to direct the spring musical at Trinity First Lutheran School, Minneapolis, Minn.
The veteran teacher is also a new mother. She and her husband, Todd, an instructor at Bethany Academy, Bloomington, have a newborn son, Isaac, who joined their family through the blessing of adoption.
Bentz graduated in 1990 from Concordia University Nebraska, in Seward, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and earned her master’s degree in teaching and learning in 2005 from St. Mary’s University, Winona, Minn.
Her career began at Our Redeemer Lutheran School, Honolulu, Hawaii, followed by Good Shepherd Lutheran School, Collinsville, Ill. For the past 13 years, Bentz has taught at Trinity First in the LCMS Minnesota South District, a school she says is “blessed by a very diverse population of students in ethnicity, socio-economic background and religious viewpoints.”
“Despite that diversity, we have developed a culture where we are family,” Bentz says. “Each day in our team ministry we get to do seed planting and faith nurturing, both of which I love!”
1. When did you know you wanted to be a Lutheran teacher?
People told me I would make a great teacher, but I didn’t want to hear that. I was the child of a Lutheran pastor and a Lutheran teacher, the Rev. and Mrs. Donald and LaVona Taylor of Shakopee, Minn., and I wanted to do something “different.” After working at a summer camp in college, I realized that I loved working with children. God put my feet on this path.
2. What is most rewarding about teaching?
The most blessed days are seeing my children as they discover new spiritual concepts.
3. Teaching’s greatest challenge?
I search for techniques, tools and ideas to reach each child and help him or her make the most of abilities. Finding time to do all I want to do is a challenge.
4. How have students and families changed during your career?
We are getting more into a techno-savvy world where children are concerned. I know they know more than I do in this area.
5. What makes Lutheran schools unique?
I get to teach children that they are one-of-a-kind people, created in Christ Jesus to do things only they can do in this world.
6. How do you integrate your faith into teaching?
I love to show how our God is a God of mathematical and scientific principles because He made them! I love to weave the faith into literature. Art and music are natural places to celebrate the creative spirit that God has given everyone as well.
7. What do you say to parents seeking a teacher’s advice?
Remember children learn from their mistakes, so don’t be afraid to let your child have a few bumps and then process those together.
8. Your favorite Bible verse?
One that especially resonates in my life: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’’’
( Jer. 29:11). I also love: “For this child I have prayed” (1 Sam. 1:27) because our son joined our lives after praying for this for so many years!
9. What’s the last best book you read?
I’ve been reading lots about newborns and infants since Isaac blessed our lives.
10. Any hobbies?
My husband and I love to hike and do home improvement projects. For that past eight years, Todd and I have served on a planning committee for the National LCMS Youth Gathering. These days I spend a lot of time holding my son and thanking God for the amazing blessings in my life.